Why Aren’t My Books Selling?

Guest post by Irene Watson

This past week I’ve been inundated with two things:

1.  Publicists wanting us to donate our time and efforts to supply their authors, whom they charge for their own time and efforts with no guarantees, to give book reviews and interviews…for free.

2.  Authors complaining that their book isn’t selling.

I’m going to leave number one alone for now because I’ve already ranted about their expectations and it only being a one way street.  However, I do have to qualify in saying that there are some publicists that actually do recognize that we have to pay staff, no different than themselves, and do offer compensation.  

I’m going to address the second one. Why isn’t the book selling?  I’ve already talked about credibility and relevancy so today I’m going to talk about authors not having a platform, or even knowing what that word means.

For example, I responded to an author with:

Okay…let’s do some brain storming here.  What is your platform?

And the response came as:

Pardon?

So, I sent him this link on Writer’s Digest explaining what a platform is.  (If you don’t know what it is, this is one of the best articles I’ve seen.)

That’s been a week ago and I haven’t heard back.  The author is either creating a platform or actually doesn’t have any experience or expertise to back his book.

And then I had another author, which wrote a book on how to start a new business, say:

should i really have a need to use my whole name?

This was a response to me telling him he can’t author a business book with just using his initials and not exposing his real identity, yet, expect credibility.  He also said:

i do not have a web-site.

Okay…let me take a deep breath here before I go on.  Yes, this is someone that wrote a business book giving steps on starting a business. Huh? Scary thought, isn’t it? Is a good book?  Heck no!  I reviewed it and it’s the worst business book I’ve ever read.  The author comes across as being extremely demanding, arrogant and over-bearing, regurgitating a few things in a 62-page book that others have said.  He also says things like “…and if you cannot see what I am trying to get across to you, you really are stupid, AND YOU ARE DESTINED TO FAIL.”   Wow…

Does this author have a platform?  He sure doesn’t…and as I said before, he doesn’t even have a website.  However, in response to my comment in the review questioning credibility he responded with:

i have owned 3 [removed for anonymity] shops
also co-founder of “citizens for [removed for anonymity]”
and a couple things i am not proud of.

So, why aren’t these author’s books not selling? I’m hoping you, as the reader of this editorial, do not have similar stories.  What is your platform? If you have one, maybe it’s time to revisit it to be sure there is credibility to back your book.

I invite you to make comments.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews  of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity  and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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Posted on March 6, 2011, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. In 2006, I met an author who was running a workshop. In fact, he became co-author to A Healing Heart. He informed us that it would take a good 5 years for an "active" author to start getting known. He talked about platforms and offering media kits. I wondered back then if I'd ever have anything over two things to send in.He's right. It's going into the fifth year and I have a wonderful platform to send out with my appearnaces and talks. Steve Harrison has a telephone seminar that I listen to a lot and one day he mentioned the difference between a rich and poor author.A poor author depends on just book signings and getting their books on the shelves of bookstores. Of course, we as authors have to get them off.A rich author looks at what else can I do for talent to get noticed. Since then, I've become a speaker on Alcohol/Drug Abuse because of my two memoirs about losing a husband and daughter from it.I took a year and put a 3 hr. workshop together on "Bring Your Manuscript to Publication." I've joined a group of four other authors called "Authors Without Borders" to help each other promote. We offer book signings, poetry slam, speaking engagments, discussion panels and we share in the cost of other events. We even co-authored a book "Loose Ends" with short stories in 2010. We're now working on a cookbook and a video. It helps in numbers.Am I becoming famous? Not yet, but slowly, just slowly, I see a door opening. For 2011, I hope to really get known from reaching even more locations for talks. My bio can be seen on my website. I'm also well known with the hosts from radio and cable TV shows. It pays to stay in contact with them. I hope this has helped others. Go for it. You either grow or stay in one place.

  2. Thanks Alberta. There is also a saying that goes "you're not going to get rich from the book but you will get rich because of the book." Creating a platform and getting yourself known for your expertise is what makes a successful author.

  3. Good article. I often wonder what a platform would look like for fiction. After some careful consideration, I determined that my best work came from my own experiences in life. For example, in "Legend," book 3 of the Spirian series, due to be released this Spring, I added some scenes that tapped my experiences working with abused horses. It was a huge success in the small circle of friends who graciously edited the book for me. My dilemma comes from lack of funds. I am constantly told that you need money to make money. As I do not write to make money, I would certainly benefit from recouping my original investment. I find it difficult to promote my books outside the state I live in. I have sent articles to many newspapers, but never hear back from them. The articles, however, have been very successful in my home state. Because I own my own business, it is difficult for me to travel and promote. Are there any suggestions for us who are not blessed with an abundance of income?

  4. I enjoyed your article. With my first book "Giving God the Helm, Overcoming Storms of Adversity" just released 2/25 I am all ears and eyes when it comes to soaking up wisdom about building one's platform. I self-published through Overcoming For Life. Having been a business banker for over 25 years I appreciate seeing the concrete steps I can take to build my platform. I can't do it all in a day, but each day I can do something that leads me forward.Have you covered in past articles the effectiveness of entering your book into competitions or book fairs? Or, are those sort of a waste of money? As part of building awareness, I have entered 3-4 contests as well as the London Book Fair.I actually have 2 platforms, the first being KuhneGallery with respect to painting that I resumed 3-4 years ago (www.kuhnegallery.com).Best regards,Mark

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